Shaun O'Connell reviews a selection of readings for would-be presidents. None of our recent presidents — going back to Dwight Eisenhower — has been a reader of "imaginative literature." While this is not, perhaps, entirely unexpected and may be indicative of the pressures on their time rather than an intrinsic aversion to literature, it should nevertheless at least lead us to ask whether their visions of who we are and our possibilities are limited by their failure to "confront some of the implications raised by serious works of the imagination, works that force us to face mysteries in the world and in ourselves."

Among the works discussed in this essay: Vestments, by Alfred Alcorn; Libra, by Don DeLillo; The Radiant Way, by Margaret Drabble; Oscar Wilde, by Richard Ellmann; The Tenants of Time, by Thomas Flanagan; Quinn 's Book, by William Kennedy; Beloved, by Toni Morrison; Good Hearts, by Reynolds Price; The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe; Returning: A Spiritual Journey, by Dan Wakefield; and S., by John Updike.



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